POSTED 23 Sep 2019 - 12:24

How might corporate Singapore reach the target of 20 per cent female directors in listed companies by 2020?

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What are some concrete actions a company can take to achieve this goal?
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Top Response

Mark Laudi, Managing Director, Hong Bao Media

What comes first? More women directors on boards, leading to better-run companies? Or well-run companies, leading to more women directors being appointed to boards?

While there is some evidence of the former, the latter is often overlooked.

The reverse is also true: the absence of...

Responses

Mildred Tan, Co-Chair, Council for Board Diversity and Chairperson, National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)
23 Sep 2019 - 12:35

Diversity in the boardroom matters as diverse boards tend to perform better, and women today are very much in the forefront of many buying decisions and provide a valuable alternative insight. Increasing women directors is an opportunity to strengthen board composition with ''in-demand'' expertise, such as digital consumer experience and corporate governance, bringing innovative ideas to the table.

We encourage board chairs to go beyond the usual networks and names. Search further afield for those who can add value. Demonstrating a progressive culture open to new ideas and diversity will help organisations attract good women candidates at the board level and organisation-wide. At the Council for Board Diversity, we are working hard towards increasing the number of women directors in the boardroom to create the ''right'' board profile to take the organisation further into the future.

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Loh Boon Chye, Co-Chair, Council for Board Diversity and CEO, Singapore Exchange
23 Sep 2019 - 12:34

Appointing more women directors is not about fulfilling numbers or complying with corporate governance norms. It is about organisations being convinced of the value of diversity - how bringing diverse perspectives to deliberations and decisions improves governance. Better performance outcomes will also follow and in turn help to build long-term value.

The Council for Board Diversity is working on convincing organisations that they will be in a better position with more diversity on their boards. We are engaging companies to understand their circumstances, and to assist them in finding suitable women directors with the skills and experience to help navigate change and leverage opportunities.

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Cheung Pui Yuen, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte Singapore
23 Sep 2019 - 12:34

Experienced corporate board members can be champions to mentor women and, over time, become sponsors where they back women as candidates for corporate boards and also assist them in broadening their connections with other sitting directors. Leaders of large organisations, particularly CEOs, have an important role to play too - by examining the culture within their organisations, the makeup of their boards and leadership, and being honest about what changes can be made to address important diversity and inclusion matters. This helps foster an environment of increased access, opportunities and leadership roles for women, to lift women in leadership.

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Ho Geok Choo, Chief Executive Officer, Human Capital (Singapore)
23 Sep 2019 - 12:33

If 20-by-20 is a must, a firm government push with a name-and-shame listing may seem like a given. But it's worthwhile to note the cultural nuances underpinning the statistics. The West are out front, but bar India, Singapore boards are way ahead in Asia and by almost double-digit percentage points compared with China, Japan and South Korea. That may offer cause to stay the iron fist and soldier on with the velvet glove of persuasion and publicity.

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Mark Laudi, Managing Director, Hong Bao Media
23 Sep 2019 - 12:32

What comes first? More women directors on boards, leading to better-run companies? Or well-run companies, leading to more women directors being appointed to boards?

While there is some evidence of the former, the latter is often overlooked.

The reverse is also true: the absence of women on the board of directors is evidence that a company is not managed to its full potential in a variety of areas of its operations.

So, the bottom line is: if you want to see more women on boards, companies must simply be run better.

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Alain Deniau, CEO & Board Practice Leader in Singapore, Heidrick & Struggles
23 Sep 2019 - 12:31

There is time for Singapore to hit 20 per cent female directors by 2020. Female leaders in Singapore are highly competent and ready for such positions; efforts should be made to reach 30 per cent female representation by 2025. However, legacies within companies remain a key barrier.

From our experience with leadership assessment, development, and succession planning, Singapore can achieve higher female representation on boards by enlarging pools of potential candidates, perhaps by nominating capable younger people. Alternatively, Singapore can emulate other countries, where board sizes were reduced, resulting in smaller, younger, and more agile boards, while increasing the proportion of female directors.

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Junie Foo, Chairperson, BoardAgender
23 Sep 2019 - 12:30

Earlier in April this year, BoardAgender, an initiative established in 2011 to increase awareness for more women on boards, reached out to the 21 companies with all-male boards, with the intention of meeting up with the chairs to chat and offer support in placing women on their boards. Of these 21 companies, five responded to us and one agreed to meet up. If each of these 21 companies puts just one woman on their board, the percentage would increase to 18 per cent.

We are currently 37 female directors short of our target and we believe that it is not a supply issue. Gender diversity on boards must be a priority for a company to fully understand the consumers and stakeholders.

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Ruth Yeoh, Board Member, The Singapore Committee for UN Women
23 Sep 2019 - 12:27

The pipeline of women ready to step up and serve as female directors in listed companies already exists in Singapore, and this pipeline is steadily growing.

The issue is the lack of diversity during the nomination process. Organisations, in order to stay competitive and relevant in today's business environment, need to open up their nomination processes to bring on diversity of thought and experience to their boards.

It begins with an inclusive nomination process, is enforced with a gender-neutral selection criteria and established with having a woman on the board. This paves the way for more women at the top.

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